“Well I have been searching all of my days, All of my days
Many a road, you know, I’ve been walking on, All of my days
And I’ve been trying to find what’s been in my mind
As the days keep turning into night”
A few days ago I was made aware of something that came about when I was around 7 or 8 years old. It had to do with a whole load of things: parents’ up and coming divorce, my brother, and surprisingly, my gifts. Somewhere in the midst of it all, I came to a place where I was unsure of my place. Not just in a room, but my place in the world around me – which for a kid isn’t huge at that point, but it carries over into the rest of my story.
I am not exactly sure if I have been looking for this place “all of my days,” as Alexi sings. Yet, something in me is aware that at some level I have been doing just that, unawares. (You might know Alexi Murdoch’s music from Garden State or Paradise Now trailer.)
Most philosophers would agree that one of the biggest questions to be asked is “what is our place?” Elijah, in the film “Unbreakable,” has spent his whole life trying to answer that question. He went so far as to blow up a plane, set fire to hotel, and de-rail a train to find the one person who was his exact opposite – unbreakable, incapable of being hurt. Once he found the man, he morbidly asked, “Do you know what it’s like to not know your purpose, your place in the world? Now I know. You are the exact opposite of me. The kids call me Mr. Glass.”
Just to be clear, I want to distinguish between “purpose” and “place.” Purpose is another one of those buzz words that has unfortunately created McDonald’s versions of churches across the U.S; along with a slew of poorly written literature just like the idea of wealth gospel crap. Purpose has become a striving obsession of our culture- possibly because we live in one that has anesthetized us to any “real” meaning in life. Purpose seems to be more about an action oriented relationship; one in which in order to find it requires some action outside of our self. Thus, the often-asked question at any cocktail party is “What do you do?”
Place seems to be something more akin to identity and location. Place is more about WHOSE you are, than who. Place has to do with where you belong, because where you belong has to do with whose you are. For instance, if I were a Great White Shark then I would belong to a family of not just sharks, but fish. My place in that family is pretty high up since I would be at the top of the food chain. My purpose - aside from scaring people on Discovery Channel, being the subject of several films, chomping the occasional surfer - ultimately would be to eat and reproduce.
So, here I was as a little boy, who somehow saw the writing on the wall and could see the family I once thought I belonged to was going to be shaken and fall apart, eventually becoming something else. Add to that, I was the youngest with a brother who, though relatively “fragile,” already was a gifted artist. Yeah, “place” was in serious question at that point in time.
Having recently worked through all this part of the story, “cleared” the emotions associated with that event, I am left with a peculiar dilemma. All of the ways I had agreed to convince myself of what my “place” was were gone. I am left with a new mode of operation. Also, I am brought back to asking the question again, “What then is my place?”
During one of my many runs that I take every other day, God seemed to bring this up. It wasn’t so much the question as him pointing something out. I hadn’t really turned to him and sought his definition of what is my place. Don’t get me wrong, I thought I had. Apparently, though, I hadn’t to the extent of letting him actually speak into this part of my story – specifically as it related to all the craziness of that event at 7/8ish; of knowing my place not just within his idea of Family, but in regards to gifting.
Alexi goes on to sing:
Well many a night I found myself with no friends standing near, All of my days. I cried aloud, I shook my hands, What am I doing here?
For I look around me and my eyes confound me and it’s just too bright as the days keep turning into night
Now I see clearly It’s you I’m looking for all of my days
Soon I’ll smile, I know I’ll feel this loneliness no more, all of my days
For I look around me and it seems He found me and it’s coming into sight
As the days keep turning into night
And even breathing feels all right
Yes, even breathing feels all right
By know means have I figured this all out. In fact, I feel more like I was just let through the door into a new realm, a new “place” that will take quite a bit of time to understand, to learn my way around. For certain, though, is whatever I used to call my place no longer exists, if it even really did at all.
I will agree that even breathing feels all right. Which is about all I can do at this juncture.